On October 30, 1938, Orson Welles broadcast a dramatic radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Legend has it that the radio play was so realistic it caused mass panic among listeners who were convinced a real alien invasion was happening on Earth.
The extent of the hysteria has since been disputed, and modern-day radio audiences might wonder what it must have been like to listen to that radio program decades ago. But tonight, some Miami listeners will experience the next-best thing. Nearly 80 years later, local public broadcasting station WLRN is reviving the original script for live audiences at the Seminole Theatre in downtown Homestead as part of its two-part series, Sci-Fi Summer: Live Radio Plays From the Golden Age of Radio.
The partnership between the newly renovated Seminole Theatre and WLRN is a serendipitous one.
“I originally met with John Watts, the artistic director of Arts Radio Network, after he saw our fliers in a hotel and stopped by. John developed the Radio Theater program with WLRN but had not yet developed a venue in Miami-Dade County,” says Mickey McGuire, executive director of the Seminole Theatre. “With the history and revitalization of the historic Seminole Theatre, we think this is a perfect match.”
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So what can attendees expect at this retro-inspired event?
“A peek into how radio broadcasts were performed dating back to the '30s and seeing the realism in the performances,” McGuire says. Essentially, a “play within a play.”
So far, the theater has committed to two live radio play productions this summer; the other, taking place in August, is an adaptation of the infamous Ed Wood film Plan 9 From Outer Space, which was also the inspiration for the Tim Burton cult classic starring Johnny Depp. Homestead might be a hike for some Miamians, but for anyone who digs sci-fi, old-school radio shows or the magic of Wells or Welles, it'll be worth it to live out this uniquely retro reenactment.
WLRN’s Sci-Fi Summer event War of the Worlds takes place Friday, July 22, at 8 p.m. at the Seminole Theatre (18 N. Krome Ave., Homestead). Visit seminoletheatre.org or call the box office at 786-650-2073.